BROOKLYN, N.Y. - At Maimonides Medical Center, there is more training on how to safely collect body fluids and remove contaminated equipment. Meetings are livestreamed so more workers stay put. And new rules have been added - all emergency room staff must wear masks.
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The Brooklyn hospital says it is ready for the possibility of a surge in patients, and doctors here say the public needs to help. Before coming to the ER, anyone feeling sick should call their doctors first.
"If you don't need to be in an emergency department, if you don't need to be around sick people, staying home is certainly a better thing to do," said Dr. John Marshall, chair of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center.
That's because the state is still ramping up testing capacity. Results can take days.
So while city ER's are not overwhelmed, like in Wuhan and Milan, doctors say they must prioritize and test only those who appear to be the most sick.
"Some of the commercial labs are starting to offer more testing. Some of the larger hospital systems are starting to get more testing available," Marshall said. "We're all hopeful that by next week, we have more access to testing than we do right now."
The New York State Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians says now, most people with mild symptoms and who are suspected of being infected likely won't be tested. Priority for testing includes those with a fever, breathing problems, and travel history to a hot spot or contact with an infected person.
Preparing for the borough or the city becoming a hot spot is their job, and priority one is protecting hospital staff.
"Losing staff, not be able to put 'em out on the floors, not being able to provide the care to the potential number of patients coming in, that is my worst nightmare," said Mike Antonaides, chief operating officer of Maimonidies Medical Center.
The command center will figure out operations, logistics and supply chain, everything from changing the visitors policy to how to fix broken equipment to how to keep supplies fully stocked. Now's the time to do so.
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